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Obama Wins/Obama Loses, Says Survey

Lighthearted Look at White House Candidates Past and Present Underscores Conflicted State of American Politics

BOSTON, MA -- (Marketwire) -- 11/05/12 -- In a further sign of how tight and unpredictable this presidential race is, a survey of 1,062 people by finds that nearly equal numbers of people would choose Barack Obama to "fly their plane" as they would to "throw him off." From a list of 19 past and current candidates, he was selected most often as the choice to pilot the plane as well as to be jettisoned. Interestingly, he was also top choice for a seatmate on a long fight to boot.

How did this happen?

The just-for-fun survey shows that Obama clearly sparks strong opinions, both pro and con. It also found that the positive and negative feelings for the Republicans are much more widespread. Barack Obama received 20% of the vote for "which of these candidates you would most like to have fly your plane." Ronald Reagan swooped in to take the No. 2 spot at 12%, leaving Mitt Romney in third place with 10.9%. Bill Clinton grabbed the fourth spot with 10.3%, while George W. Bush took fifth with 9.9%.

When it came time to select which candidate respondents would "most like to toss off a plane," the Republicans did not split their vote, leading Obama to the top of the list with 22% of the votes. This time, the Democrats spread their passion around, with Mitt Romney at 16.6%, edging out Sarah Palin (15.7%) for second place in the line to be tossed. George W. Bush landed in the fourth spot with 9.6% of the votes.

In the likeability test of "which of these candidates would you most like to sit next to on a long flight?" Obama took top honors with 15.9%. Two icons for their parties grabbed the No. 2 and 3 spots when Bill Clinton scored 14.8% and Ronald Reagan claimed 12.4%. Steven Colbert was next on the list with 11.8%. Meanwhile Mitt Romney, who scored 5.6%, was bested by Sarah Palin (8.6%) and Hillary Clinton (7.9%).

Women v. men

Speaking of women, when you filter the results to just female respondents, a few key things change:

  • Obama's lead in the pilot question jumps to 24.1% while Romney (10.1%) falls to fourth on that list, behind Clinton.
  • The gap also tightens to almost a dead heat between Obama (21.6%) and Romney (20.7%) for favorite choice to jettison. Sarah Palin stays in third place with 17.8% of the votes.
  • Furthering the trend, Obama also scored higher with the women as the choice for seatmate with 18.8%. The next closest, at 13.1% was Bill Clinton, followed closely by Hillary Clinton at 11.8%. Romney dropped down to 5.3%, which was eighth overall on the list.

Meanwhile, if you slice the data to just include just men's responses, you find:

  • George W. Bush suddenly jumps into third place on the pilot answer with 11.4% of the vote. Obama still leads but with 17.5%, followed by Reagan with 12.5%. Romney lands back in fourth here too, even though he garners a healthier 11.2% of the votes.
  • Obama's numbers rise to 22.8% as the choice to toss off the plane while Sarah Palin (14.4%) leapfrogged Romney (13.3%) to become the second-most popular answer.
  • Bill Clinton (16.4%) and Reagan (14.7%) both top Obama (13.7%) as seatmate of choice among men. Steven Colbert is hot on Obama's heels as well with 13.1%.

Regional read

Since politics is local, we also took a look at regional breakdowns and found the following:

  • In every one of the five regions, Obama took the top spot as choice to fly the plane. However, his low point was the Southeast, where he scored 15.8% of the vote. His high point was the Northeast, where he claimed 25% of the vote. In his "home" region of the Midwest, he scored 21.5%.
  • The Southwest was most inclined to "toss" Obama. There he received 26.3% of the votes. He seems safest in the Northeast where he received only 15.6% of the votes for candidate to jettison. Correspondingly, Romney was atop the Northeast "toss" list with 21.7% followed by Palin at 19.3%.
  • In Romney's "home" region, the Northeast, he netted only 2.9% of the votes for seatmate of choice. Bill Clinton was the top scorer for seat neighbor in the region with 19.3% to Obama's 18%. Bill Clinton also took top seatmate honors in the Midwest with 15.2%. Obama (13.8%) just inched past Reagan (13.1%) there. Palin also was not a hometown favorite as her lowest scoring seatmate performance was 3.9% in the Northwest.

Worth noting

A few additional fun facts we gleaned along the way:

  • "Sully" Sullenberger, pilot of the "Miracle on Hudson" flight, got as many write-in votes (2) as Dan Quayle received as an official choice for the pilot question. For that matter, Marvin the Martian and Mickey Mouse write-ins netted the cartoon world the same standing as well.
  • Other unexpected write-in candidates included "Honest Abe Lincoln" and Ulysses S Grant.
  • In the end, Gerald Ford was the safest on our fictitious plane as only one person voted to send him packing. Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan and Steven Colbert were the next three safest, all with 10 or fewer ejection votes.

"While we created this survey to be lighthearted, we've found that the results really are a compelling reflection of the state of U.S. politics heading into perhaps the closest election in modern times," said Emily Fisher of "Leadership, likability and discord all factor into the voting process and, on our fictitious plane, we can see how would-be voters from across the country feel and where their loyalties lie. Our vote is that, in the end, we will all want a vacation from politics and candidates when the election is over."

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(1)The poll of 1,062 adults, conducted at the end of October, asked US respondents to select from a politically representative list of high profile presidential and vice presidential candidates -- or to name their own candidate. The options were: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Sara Palin, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson, Herman Cain, Dan Quayle, Joe Biden, Paul Ryan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Stephen Colbert, Ross Perot, Ralph Nader, John Edwards, or 'other -- specify'.

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